Nearly a third (30%) of children worry about their family having enough to live on comfortably as the cost of living crisis deepens, according to a charity.
Action for Children commissioned surveys of more than 5,000 adults and children aged as young as 11 to explore the biggest issues affecting childhood.
Nearly half (47%) of children surveyed from low-income backgrounds (where the household annual income was less than £20,000) said they worry about their family’s finances, compared with one in seven (14%) children from high-income families (where the household income was more than £70,000 annually).
The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said last week that households are facing the biggest squeeze in living standards since records began in 1956-57.
Action for Children said that, two years on from the first national lockdown, mental health was now a much bigger worry for children, with less than a third (29%) of children seeing their own mental health as an issue in 2019, compared with 42% in 2022.
Covering up a worry is common for children, the research suggested, with nearly six in 10 (57%) hiding worries from their parents.
Parents appear to be in tune with this, with 60% believing their child keeps their worries hidden.
Over a third (38%) of children believe they will have a brighter future than their parents.
More than half of parents (56%) and grandparents (52%) feel too much time spent on devices and social media make it more difficult for children to fulfil their potential – but only a third (33%) of children agree.
The findings were published as Action for Children launched its new “star in every child” campaign to help its workers deliver support to vulnerable children.
Imran Hussain, director of policy and campaigns at Action for Children, said: “Day in, day out our frontline staff support children grappling to see how they fit into our complex world – navigating big issues including financial worries, climate change and the pandemic.
“Sadly, since we conducted our research, intensifying money worries and the war in Ukraine will leave children feeling the world is a gloomier place.
“The likely fall-out of the Ukraine conflict with even higher energy bills and inflation rates not seen for a generation is a double blow for low-income families already locked in a crippling cost-of-living crisis.
“The pandemic also continues to hang heavy, and its impact will be felt long into children’s futures.”
A Government spokesperson said: “The latest official figures show there were 300,000 fewer children in poverty after housing costs than in 2010 and we continue to provide extensive support to reduce this number further, recognising the pressures people are facing with the cost of living and providing support worth £22 billion this financial year and next to help.
“This includes putting an average of £1,000 more per year into the pockets of working families via changes to universal credit, cutting fuel duty and helping households with their energy bills through our £9.1 billion Energy Bills Rebate.
“We’re also boosting the minimum wage by more than £1,000 a year for full-time workers and raising national insurance thresholds so people across the UK will keep more of what they earn before they start paying tax, while our £1 billion household support fund is helping the most vulnerable with essential costs.”